Ida is single and struggling to comprehend that motherhood is looking less and less likely for her. Contemplating her next steps becomes even more difficult when spending time with her family and discovering some "wonderful" news from her sister.
Thank you to Pushkin Press for sending me a review copy of 'Grown Ups' in anticipation of its release on 3rd June 2021! As contemporary novels become more and more my "thing" I really wanted to read those that touch upon difficult subjects, in this case, the difficulties of 'making it' into motherhood. You can order Grown Ups from all good booksellers, but you can support independent booksellers by ordering from Bookshop.org here: https://uk.bookshop.org/a/2505/9781782276531
Having grown up (hehe) with literary and film characters such as Bridget Jones, the concept of an "older" woman struggling to find what her purpose is isn't new to me. However, Aubert offers something a little more modern and more emotional than her predecessors. Ida is our main character, but all of the side characters, her family, are well-rounded and realistic despite the short narrative. By creating a cast of recognisable personalities Aubert has ensured that with each turn of the page we are invested in the narrative and want to see the outcome (it also explains why I read this in one sitting).
Normally we read books set over long time spans, weeks, months, years in fact, but I thoroughly enjoyed 'Grown Ups' being set over only a few days. Narrative flicks back and forth between Ida's memories of growing up and present day but it was still perfectly paced. Whilst appreciating the shortness of this story I really did wish that there was more depth put into Ida and her thought processes. There is a lot of background to the family and whilst the rest of the characters seemed to have a solid characterisation Ida fell slightly flat. Her behaviour was unpredictable and there were hints toward why she did certain things it wasn't explicit enough for me to fully connect to her and as a main character, it created a divide between me and the narrative.
Plot-wise, I thoroughly enjoyed this. I don't think that any of us are strangers to family drama and 'Grown Ups' often perfectly captured the struggle to get along when in a secluded setting. The ending was satisfying enough for me to actually want more of Ida, despite her character flaws I wanted to follow her back to her normal life and see how this narrative effected her life back home.
Overall, 'Grown Ups' offers a strained view of family life from the perspective of the 'black sheep' of the family, but, at the same time it shows that despite the looks and conversations aimed toward them and their 'failures', they can succeed as well as anyone in their goals.